The Critic Te Arohi Census 2021: who are Otago students, really?

The Critic Te Arohi Census 2021: who are Otago students, really?

Out of interest, curiosity, and an effort to understand our audience and the wider student body, Critic Te Arohi conducted a survey over the mid-semester break, asking 50 questions that covered a wide range of topics from academics to politics to demographics to drugs. 439 people completed the survey, and we’ve shared the highlights with you here.

Our 439 respondents covered a range of ages and degrees. 20 was the most common age with 21 close behind, and third year was the most common year level. One respondent was 21, turning 22 tomorrow, so happy birthday to them.

Law was the most common major (49 respondents), followed by Psychology (30), Medicine (16), Economics (13), and Neuroscience (12). 85.6% of respondents started Uni immediately after high school, and the average person reported feeling relatively prepared about starting Uni, with a solid 7 out of 10 in preparedness. The paper that the most people said was the most interesting paper they had taken was HUBS191, followed by FORB201, PHAL211, and BIOL112 (this statistic will be significantly biased towards first-year papers and papers with large enrolments). Our respondents were also a mostly honest bunch, with only 24.6% using their heat pump more than their flatmates realise.


Do you believe that students should receive more financial support from the government?

Do you believe that you will ever be able to afford a house?

Which political party did you vote for in the last election? (party vote)

If we take the 2020 electorate winners and assume they all retained their electorates, this kind of voting would create an unprecedented 24-seat overhang in our usually 120-seat parliament. That would probably break New Zealand politics. Additionally, 21.4% of respondents are involved in groups for political or social change. The mean level of existential dread reported by respondents thanks to climate change was a solid 8.03/10.

Most people appear to trust the Uni a moderate amount, with an average response of 5.3/10.

For OUSA, trust was slightly higher (6.7/10). The 27.8% of respondents who have been employed by the University held a slightly lower trust towards the University than those who hadn’t.


Do you think you have more or less sex than your peers?

This chart is interesting because it suggests that we have an inflated view of how much sex our friends and peers are having. 39% of respondents believe they have less sex than their peers and only 26.4% of respondents believe they have more sex than their peers, suggesting people believe they have less sex (relative to their peers) than they actually do. One might say that this is because the students having lots of sex are too busy smashing parts to respond to frivolous surveys, but I refuse to believe that. 



I don’t have much to say here other than students love their drugs. A whopping 99.1% of respondents have tried alcohol, and 90.9% of respondents consume alcohol at least once a month. While 97.2% of respondents had tried caffeine before, only 86.4% consume caffeine at least once a month. For the percentage of respondents who consume cannabis and nicotine/tobacco at least once a month, those numbers drop to 28.7% and 38.0%, respectively. 

If you’re in the 5.3% of respondents who take MDMA at least once a month, I’m slightly concerned for you. On the other hand, if you are the respondent who said that you consume “Your Love - Ke$ha” at least once a month, I’m not concerned for you. You’re doing great. 

16.6% of respondents are lying to themselves.

This is a much higher percentage than recent nationwide estimates (courtesy of the 2019/20 NZ Health Survey). I don’t think this roughly even split between vapers and non-vapers would be particularly surprising to any students. The most popular vape flavour was clearly Peach Ice (29 votes), followed by Cola Ice (15), Grape (13), Watermelon (12), and Mango Ice (10). All other flavours got less than 10 votes.


32.1% of respondents considered themselves part of the LGBTQ+ community, and a further 10.3% weren’t sure. Of those respondents, a worrying 43.6% had faced hate or discrimination based on their gender, sexual, or romantic identity. Issues facing the community locally that were raised included systemic transphobia, particularly in media and the healthcare system, and casual homophobia and transphobia from other students, often in the form of ‘jokes’. There were also concerns around a more general lack of acceptance at Otago. A few people also wanted more explicitly gay bars, clubs, and other public spaces.

LGBTQ+ was the most commonly preferred umbrella term (46.8%), followed by queer (38.2%) and LGBTQIA+ (27.7%). 28.9% of respondents said “I don’t care”, but many respondents noted a number of concerns with the terms. LGBT and Gay were generally considered uninclusive and outdated as umbrella terms. Takatāpui is not a good umbrella term due to its cultural specificity. Several people found Rainbow infantising or patronizing. Many respondents also found queer to be an uncomfortable term when used by straight cis people, thanks to its historical (and to some extent current) usage as a slur. 

14.1% of respondents considered themselves to be a person of colour. Of those respondents, more than half (55%) reported having faced hate or discrimination based on their race or ethnicity. 

Systemic racism, including unequal opportunities, lack of representation, and ongoing effects of colonialism, were highlighted as issues facing people of colour locally. Additionally many respondents reported casual racism, from microaggressions to stereotyping to insensitive jokes.

When asked what umbrella term they preferred, the majority of respondents (56.9%) said to just be more specific when referring to communities. People of colour (POC) was the most commonly preferred term (36.2%). Many respondents found non-white and visible minority uncomfortable because they centre ‘whiteness’ as default. 

Of the respondents that are Māori (5.5% of total respondents), some said the Uni upheld Te Tiriti “to an extent”, whilst others said the te ao Māori wasn’t adequately implemented on campus. One respondent said “Nope. I think it’s astounding the ignorance across departments and institutionally. I don’t think there is much attention paid by the University as a whole to genuine partnership or tino rangatiratanga, though I do think there are some excellent individuals who operate within the University”. When asked if the government was adequately upholding Te Tiriti, several respondents said somewhat, and that they were improving, whilst others said “no lol” and “most certainly not”.


How's your day been? You good?

This wasn’t meant to be part of the census but I liked some of the responses too much not to include them. To the person who typed a paragraph about their shitty landlord, feel free to email us to tell us more. A wholesome thank you to all the 11 people who asked how my day was going too.


Selected responses:

idk i played a lot of sims! vibing tho

  • Me too anonymous person, me too


Lame just paid $26.50 for the worst nachos of my life

  • Good lord, where are you buying your nachos from? 


Just went to the dentist so feeling clean and got laid last night so pretty good to be honest.

  • Sex and a dental check-up, what more could you ask for? I’m happy for you comrade.


pretty good i got a job interview!!!! Yay!!!!!

  • Yay!!! Can’t wait for you to join the capitalist rat race!! jk that’s awesome good job friend


Hung out with my dog all day, just had a cone, chock full of serotonin rn

  • I want your life.


Thanks but I only see you as a friend

  • Can’t say I saw myself getting friendzoned, unprompted, by an anonymous census respondent but here we are. That’s okay anonymous census respondent, I’m just glad we can be friends.


Shit haven't had any nangs

  • I hope you remedy that soon, friend.


Inception is pretty scary 

  • Can’t argue with that.


Yes very good, huzah!

  • Huzzah!


Time is fleeting, I am ceebs

  • Wise words.
This article first appeared in Issue 15, 2021.
Posted 5:19pm Sunday 18th July 2021 by Elliot Weir.